Did You Know?
The word banana has its origin in the Arabic word 'banan', meaning finger.
Regular consumption of bananas, the most popular and inexpensive fruit in the world, can help improve the health of a person in several ways. The banana is described as a 'leathery berry.' The flesh is firm, creamy, and satiating. However, bananas are very difficult to transport and keep fresh. They are very fragile. Moreover, they ripen quickly. The bright-yellow skin turns brown as lots of brown spots almost cover the skin. The fruit becomes softer as it ripens, and loses its charm.
Bananas can be enjoyed as a morning or afternoon snack. You can replace candy bars and other junk food with this fruit. Banana chunks can be added to salads and breakfast cereals. This fruit can be fed to babies, patients, or elderly members of the family alike. Peeled bananas or banana chunks turn brown within a few minutes, because of a simple oxidation process.
You can prevent this from happening with the help of the tips presented below. Although overripe bananas are perfectly edible, keeping them fresh for longer is better. We'll also see how to carry a banana in your handbag/backpack without spoiling the banana itself, besides your belongings.
How to Keep Bananas Fresh for Longer
Buy Green Bananas
Instead of buying fully ripe, yellow bananas, buy greenish bananas which are slightly ripe. You can store these at room temperature. Slowly, they will ripen within a few days. When you buy ripe bananas, you need to consume them within 2 - 3 days. Select firm green bananas without dark spots or abrasions on the peels, as they have maximum storage life without the need for freezing.
Store the Bananas Properly
Take out the bananas from the plastic bag as soon as you reach home. Bananas covered in bags (green bags, paper bags) would ripen faster. Bananas exposed to room temperature ripen slower and evenly. See to it that they are not exposed to direct heat or sunlight. Place them away from the stove, heater, and window. Store them in a well-ventilated, cool, dark place. Do not keep the bunch of bananas as shown in the picture below. Bananas resting on a kitchen countertop are likely to get bruised.
Refrigerate Ripe Bananas
If you are not going to consume ripe bananas immediately, place them in a plastic bag, seal it, and keep it in the fridge. The peels may darken, but the flesh will not be affected. Remove them from the refrigerator a few hours before your snack-time, allow them to come back to room temperature, and then consume them. You can keep ripe bananas in your refrigerator for at least one week.
It is difficult to peel frozen bananas. Moreover, thawed bananas may turn into a sloppy semi-viscous mass. So, peel them, place them in a zipper storage bag or plastic container, and then freeze them. You can use these bananas to make smoothies or for cooking/baking purposes. Sprinkling some lemon juice over them will keep the thawed bananas from turning brown. Never refrigerate green bananas. They would not ripen properly, and even if you remove them afterwards, they would not be able to resume the ripening process after returning to room temperature.
Keep Them Away from Other Fruits
Place the bananas away from other ripe fruits. This can help delay the process of ripening. Ripe fruits produce ethylene, and unripe fruits ripen faster when exposed to ethylene. Ethylene speeds up maturation and abscission of fruits. This applies to bananas too.
Wrap the Stems
Wrapping the stems (the crown) in plastic wrap prevents the escape of ethylene from the stems. It also prevents evaporation of moisture and absorption of ethylene released by fruits nearby, to some extent. You can place some tape over the plastic wrap. If you want, you can wrap the stems with foil. Every time you remove a banana from the bunch, you will have to wrap it back again carefully. This will help keep them fresh for longer.
Divide and Rule
There are gaps in between the bananas that are all together in a bunch. So, you cannot get a tight seal on them. If you want them to last as long as possible, separate them carefully (along with the stems). It is easy to wrap the stem of a single banana as compared to wrapping the bunch. Place the individual bananas in a tray or on a paper napkin, leaving some space between every two bananas. So, the process that leads to the development of brown freckles on the skin can be slowed down a little.
And, without removing the stem wrapper, you can open the bananas from the opposite end, and can use the wrapped stem as a handle to hold them.
Use a Banana Bunker
A banana in a lunch box can keep you satiated for longer. Various types of colorful banana carriers are available in stores. These hard plastic cases have small holes for ventilation. A banana bunker (light-weight plastic case) helps protect, the delicate fruit, and also other valuables (important papers, books, clothes, etc.) in your handbag, sac, or briefcase. The cases are so well designed that you can carry a straight or curved banana in them. They prevent bruising of the fruit too.
Bananas, after cutting, can be prevented from turning brown. Sprinkle a little bit of pineapple, orange, grapefruit juice, vinegar, or lemon juice (any acidic fruit juice) over the slices. You can even immerse the chunks in lemon juice for 2 - 3 minutes. If you are going to consume them whole, you can sprinkle some lemon juice over them after peeling.
If you want, you can apply the juice with the help of a brush. Or, take ¼ cup lemon juice and add water to the cup. Stir well. Dip the peeled bananas in lemon water for 3 minutes and keep them aside.
Refrigerate Banana Chunks
You can place banana chunks in a dish or a bowl, and can refrigerate them. You could mash them before freezing. It is better to portion the chunks into small amounts, taking into consideration the recipe of banana bread, smoothie, or cookies, that you are planning to make. Put the portions in small zipper freezer bags (or plastic containers) separately, and store them in the freezer.
If it's too late for you to store bananas, you can use those overripe bananas to make different types of banana breads, pies, muffins, banana oatmeal cookies, donuts, cheesecakes, pancakes, puddings, etc.